Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Medical Internet Research: mHealth and uHealth





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Background: Although skin cancer is largely preventable, it affects nearly 1 of 5 US adults. There is a need for research on how to optimally design persuasive public health indoor tanning prevention messages.

Objective: The objective of our study was to examine whether framed messages on indoor tanning behavioral intentions delivered through short message service (SMS) text messaging would produce (1) positive responses to the messages, including message receptivity and emotional response; (2) indoor tanning efficacy beliefs, including response efficacy and self-efficacy; and (3) indoor tanning risk beliefs.

Methods: We conducted a pilot study of indoor tanning prevention messages delivered via mobile phone text messaging in a sample of 21 young adult women who indoor tan. Participants completed baseline measures, were randomly assigned to receive gain-, loss-, or balanced-framed text messages, and completed postexposure outcome measures on indoor tanning cognitions and behaviors. Participants received daily mobile phone indoor tanning prevention text messages for 1 week and completed the same postexposure measures as at baseline.

Results: Over the 1-week period there were trends or significant changes after receipt of the text messages, including increased perceived susceptibility (P<.001), response efficacy beliefs (P<.001), and message receptivity (P=.03). Ordinary least squares stepwise linear regression models showed an effect of text message exposure on self-efficacy to quit indoor tanning (t6=–2.475, P<.02). Ordinary least squares linear regression including all measured scales showed a marginal effect of SMS texts on self-efficacy (t20=1.905, P=.08). Participants endorsed highly favorable views toward the text messaging protocol.

Conclusions: This study supports this use of mobile text messaging as an indoor tanning prevention strategy. Given the nature of skin cancer risk perceptions, the addition of multimedia messaging service is another area of potential innovation for disseminating indoor tanning prevention messages.


Reproduced with permission of JMIR Publications. Journal of Medical Internet Research: mHealth and uHealth

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